The GoDaddy team finished where they started last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Patrick started 21st in the field, one of her better qualifying efforts this season, and after running a clean race, finished in the same spot.
Improving eight spots from last season, Patrick and the team made major improvements to the car for the race after a series of bad practice times left her running in the mid-30s before the race.
“I’m proud of the GoDaddy guys,” said Patrick, “we weren’t good in the first practice (on Friday). Tony Gibson and the guys worked really hard, and we qualified well and then continued to get better throughout the weekend. It was a good race for us. It was a little tight at the end, but overall, we improved, and I think we’ve gotten better the last few races. The pit crew was really good, and they were quick on each stop. I’m happy with how we ran. Obviously, you always want to do better than you finish, but it’s like we’ve said all year, it’s about making little gains and getting better as we go along.”
Before heading to Richmond, Patrick had a little fun during the week. Earlier in the year, Patrick filmed an episode of the Food Network’s hit show, “Chopped.” Featuring four sports stars, Patrick went up against former NFL running back Tiki Barber, celebrity bodyguard and Hells Angel Chuck Zito and 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin.
On the show, each contestant is given the same basket of mystery ingredients and has to prepare a meal using the chosen ingredients. With three rounds consisting of an appetizer, entrée and dessert, one contestant is eliminated after each round. Coming down to the dessert round, it was Patrick and Coughlin going head to head.
In the end, Patrick’s 3-course meal was superior and she walked away the Chopped Champion and her charity, the COPD Foundation, was awarded $10,000. Her reaction was that of a little kid receiving the puppy they’ve been asking for.
You can find more about what Patrick prepared in the kitchen here and find the full episode, titled “Sports Stars” on iTunes.
Also this week, Patrick and fellow Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr were a part of a new music video by country artist Colt Ford. The video, shot near the Charlotte area, will be released at a later date.
After her fun this week, its back to business as Patrick heads to Richmond for the second time. Back in April, Patrick started 30th in the race and finished 29th. Testing at the track just a few weeks ago with Mark Martin, the team hopes that the extra time on the .75-mile oval will lead to a better result on Saturday night.
“The test went really well,” Patrick said in a press release, “I’ve always been happy to have other drivers in my car at a test, especially someone like Mark with all his experience. For me, as a rookie, I think it’s important to get a different perspective and get someone else’s thoughts. Mark has so much experience and he’s been so helpful to me, even before we were teammates, so I was happy to have him in the car. Anything that will make me better and SHR better as a whole, I’m all for.”
“I’ve always enjoyed coming to Richmond. I had fun racing Indy cars here,” she continued. “I liked driving the Nationwide car
here. We didn’t have the greatest result but it was still fun. Having done the Cup race in the spring and then a test last week, I feel more confident going in. As I’ve said, it’s nice to go to these tracks a second or third time. The comfort level is obviously much higher.”
After a bobble in qualifying, Patrick will be starting the Federated Auto Parts 400 in 36th place. The team will need some strategy to get through the field but Patrick has shown promise on short tracks this season. With one previous start and a test session at Richmond, the team is ready to tackle the track. Tony Stewart will also be at the race this weekend so look for him to offer his “little sister” some much needed advise on race day.